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8th Annual ND Indian Child Welfare Conference

The 8th Annual conference is taking place on March 3-5, 2009 at the Radisson Hotel in Bismarck, North Dakota. We expect over 275 participants to gather to learn, play and enjoy the information that will be shared during the conference. Judge Thorne is returning once again. You can register online or call our office for more registration information.

6th Annual ND Indian Child Welfare Conference

Victor LaCerva was the featured speaker for this year's 6th Annual conference on January 23-25, 2007 at the Mandan Seven Seas Conference Center in Mandan, ND. 275 participants gathered to learn, play and enjoy the information shared during the conference. Judge Thorne returned and once again was received rave reviews from all of the attendees. Again, a great big thanks to the conference committee who put in much time and effort to make this year's conference bigger than ever!

Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Insitute
In September, Native American Training Institute recently partnered with the Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Insitute through a Department of Justice grant to provide technical assistance and training to emerging tribal child welfare systems in selected areas across the country. This partnership will focus on helping selected tribes to develop their systems through business process flow development, policies and procedures, child protection team procedures, court training, funding procurement through state/tribal agreements, and foster parent licensing, training, and policies.

NATI Receives Region VII CSCC Grant - 2002-2003
The Native American Training Institute received good news recently! The Region VII Children’s Services Coordinating Committee awarded the Institute a grant for $7,257.20 to provide training in historical trauma for parents and youth. The grant will provide for five trainings to be held at various sites around the area. These trainings are currently scheduled and information can be accessed here.

Patricia Hall-Hammeren, Director of the NATI, says the grant was a great help with current efforts. “We just completed a series of historical trauma trainings across the state for professionals and we were asked to do this for parents as well as professionals” she said. “Helping parents and youth understand the concepts in the training will facilitate healing and help understand negative behaviors and the choices we make”.

The trainings will be held in Fort Yates, Bismarck, White Shield, Mandan and Steele. The participants would be drawn from the counties of Oliver, Mercer, McLean, Sheridan, Burleigh, Morton, Sioux, Grant, Kidder and Emmons. The grant is a one-year grant.

United Way Funds Efforts of NATI 2003-2005

The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way recently awarded $2,000 to the Institute to assist in efforts of suicide prevention for American Indian youth. Statistics show that the suicide rate for Native American youth in North Dakota greatly exceeds that for non-Native Americans. The youth suicide rates for each of the reservations vary from 37-144 per 100,00 while the rate for the rest of North Dakota is at 18.6 per 100,000. “Suicide is a major issue on our reservations,” says Patricia Hall-Hammeren, Director of NATI. “Our Board has identified it as a major issue and we are seeking partnerships to address this issue in a culturally-based way. In our experience, cultural interventions have proven to be most effective.”

The NATI has conducted a focus group with youth from reservations across the state and addressed suicide prevention at their annual North Dakota Native American Foster Parent Association Conference. The MSAUW award will assist in continuing those efforts of networking, planning, researching and collaborating.

Cultural Competency Training Series Completed

Staff of the NATI recently completed a series of trainings on cultural competency geared toward human service professionals. The trainings were held across the state of North Dakota in the cities of Grand Forks, Fargo, Jamestown, Bismarck, Devil’s Lake and Minot. The trainings were conducted as part of a grant received from the Bush Foundation and are part of a larger plan for improving services for minority groups, especially Native Americans, a population largely overrepresented in the state and county human service system.

The cultural competency training was an introduction to the concepts of cultural competency. Participants built upon the Cross Model of Cultural Competency with a variety of fun activities designed to increase self-awareness, provide experiences and utilize concepts learned in real-life situations and scenarios. Participants were asked to complete a project in which they utilized skills and knowledge from the training in their own work. Says Patricia Hall-Hammeren, Director of NATI, “We were amazed and thrilled at some of the projects and participants. Whether they were larger or smaller projects, some of them demonstrated a real commitment and understanding to the concepts presented. It was exciting to see the implementation of concepts by workers.”

Approximately 310 human service professionals were trained during the course of the series. The training was developed with the assistance of several focus groups that incorporated human service professionals from all over the state of North Dakota. Plans to improve and expand the training efforts are currently underway.
2/03 Second Annual ICWA Conference Provides Variety of Events

• Keep up the good work. Thank you for giving me a chance to be sensitized and gain further respect and insights.
• This was a wonderful, informative conference. I want to thank all the planners. The speakers were very helpful in providing an understanding of ICWA.
• I really enjoyed Judge Thorne’s session and the entertainment that was offered. I feel renewed in ICWA efforts.
• This is an excellent conference and I plan to attend the next one.
• This conference should be required for child welfare certification. All child welfare supervisors should be mandated to attend.

These are just some of the great comments received from participants at the 2nd annual North Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act conference held January 28-30, 2003, in Bismarck. “In the Spirit of ICWA: Culture, Compliance, Collaboration” was the theme of this year’s conference, which brought together 150 participants, a number down from last year but still significant.

The conference opened with a luncheon and a welcome and remarks from Patricia Hall-Hammeren, the Director of the Native American Training Institute. Patsy thanked the conference committee for their hard work and acknowledged each of them. Also offering opening remarks was Cheryl Kulas, Executive Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission. Cheryl noted the many areas of collaboration between the Tribes and the state and encouraged all participants to follow in this spirit of collaboration.

The final welcome speaker was Carol K. Olson. Despite the fact that the conference fell during the beginning of the busy legislative session, the Executive Director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services was able to be at the conference and affirm her department’s commitment to the Indian Child Welfare Act. Olson informed each of the participants that she would welcome efforts to improve compliance and even gave out her phone number and encouraged participants to call her.

The first day of the conference ended with two breakout sessions. There were five breakout sessions in total, which offered a myriad of topics for participants. The various topics included:
• When Tribes and States Collide
• Using Tribal Culture in Placement
• The State of ICWA
• Rights and Responsibilities
• Qualified Expert Witness and Standards of Evidence
• Termination of Parental Rights
• Improving ICWA
• The ICWA Challenge
• Native Homes and Placements
• A Day in the Life of…

The second day of the conference featured breakout sessions as well the cultural demonstration booths. The cultural demonstration booths consisted of individuals knowledgeable in the cultural ways of the four Tribes in North Dakota. The cultural demonstration booths consisted of Don Rush of the Three Affiliated Tribes demonstrating the traditional hand games. Brent Kary of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe demonstrating the moccasin game.  Beverly Parisien of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa demonstrating traditional Native foods. Lee Fox, Jr. of the Three Affiliated Tribes illustrating clanship systems and his work with Native youth, mentoring and wraparound. Russell Gillette of the Three Affiliated Tribes discussing spirituality. David Seaboy of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe demonstrating Native singing. Justine Parkhurst of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe demonstrating the making of starquilts and cradleboards. Don Cain of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa demonstrating traditional hide tanning. Julie Cain of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana demonstrating doll-making. Sonja Cain of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana demonstrating traditional quillwork and beadwork. Marvin Bald Eagle-Youngman demonstrating the making and playing of the Native flute. John Pepion demonstrating contemporary Native painting and line-drawing.


The second day of the conference also featured a luncheon with remarks from the Honorable Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle from the North Dakota Supreme Court. Chief Justice VandeWalle spoke of the need to work collaboratively for all children in the state. Luncheon entertainment was provided by the Turtle Mountain Metis Dancers.

The conference agenda ended with more breakouts sessions but the fun didn’t stop there! Wednesday evening saw the comedic entertainments of Mitch Factor and Vanessa Short Bull. Mitch and Vanessa, both budding comedians, had the crowd of approximately 100 people roaring with laughter. Lines to receive autographed pictures of them after the show were quite long!

The last day of the conference began with a fun event led by Dr. Ramona Klein. She talked about the importance of attitude and her experience in boarding school. Her general session involved red clown noses, antennae, gorilla moves and an impromptu train around the ballroom (you had to be there!)!  The final day also featured the final experts panel, which included Judge William Thorne, B.J. Jones, Judge Elbridge Coochise, Jack Trope and Dr. John Red Horse. These experts responded to written questions submitted by conference attendees and provided further useful information about the intricacies of the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The day ended with good wishes for all participants.

12/02 NATI Awarded Bush Foundation Grant for Training Partnership

The Native American Training Institute has received a Bush Foundation grant in the amount of $100,000 to conduct training for Department of Human Services employees.

NATI, in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Human Services’ task force (the American Indian Cultural Awareness Project), has developed a three-phased training project to improve the quality of services for Native American children and families in the state through the development of cultural competency skills in the NDDHS workforce.

mpetent one, and (5) it is likely to have a long-term, systemic impact oThis grant project will build on the momentum created by several state-wide initiatives to improve collaboration and relationships between the state and the tribes. The strengths of the training project are that (1) it will be comprised of three distinct phases that will allow employees to move across a cultural competency continuum, (2) it will be developed with the input of all key stakeholders, including Native consumers, service providers and division managers, (3) it will incorporate the unique history and culture of the state, (4) the development process itself is a culturally con human service policy and practices in the state.

The grant project is part of an on-going collaborative effort that originated in the fall of 2001. One phase of the entire project has already been completed with the printing of the “Journey to Understanding: A Guide to North Dakota Tribes” manual or workbook. This project was a collaborative effort between NATI and the AICAP of the DHS. The Bush Foundation grant will build on this work with further training and assessment.

The grant project will also incorporate a strong evaluation component in order to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum outcomes, the acquisition of participant skills and, ultimately, the level of change in practice. The grant period is from December 2002 to December 2003.

Second Annual ICWA Conference Planning in the Works

The second annual state Indian Child Welfare Act conference planning committee is hard at work on the 2003 conference. Taking into consideration the conference evaluations from the first conference, this year’s conference promises to be bigger and better.

One change will be the addition of tracks for beginners and advanced. This addition was made in response to the comments that information was too basic for some yet too advanced for others. This year’s conference will feature sessions geared toward the practitioner just entering the ICWA arena and other sessions geared toward the veteran practitioner.

Another change to the conference will be the addition of more “working” sessions than the traditional “lecture” session. The conference will focus on collaboration and finding answers to questions together. To meet this end, the conference will feature several mock hearing sessions, in which participants can witness a hearing and see the many nuances of the ICWA in action. It promises to be informational, helpful, interesting and fun.

An addition to this year’s conference is cultural demonstration booths. The booths will feature the many aspects of Native culture among North Dakota tribes for participants. Another addition will be a silent auction that will feature great items that can be purchased in part with time-is-money “conference cash”. Both of these additions will add some fun to the entire conference.

Finally, one thing the conference won’t change is a certain keynote speaker. Due to popular demand, the conference will again feature Judge William Thorne. Judge Thorne’s sessions in the first conference proved to be big hits and so Judge Thorne has graciously agreed to return to North Dakota in January (a feat in itself!) to join us.

We look forward to seeing as many participants – if not more! – at this year’s conference since we know that the participants make the conference a success.

Staff Changes, Additions and Other Stuff

The seasons aren’t the only things changing up here in North Dakota. The NATI has seen several changes in the past few months.

Director Jodi Gillette was granted a sabbatical to pursue her Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. Jodi will be hitting the books for eighteen months and will return to the Institute at that time. In her absence, Patricia Hall-Hammeren is serving as the Director of NATI.

Lynette Kraft joined the NATI team as the Office Manager in March of 2002. She is a great fit with her management, organizational and business skills. Lynette owned her own business for 15 years before coming to the Institute.

Finally, Cheryl Long Feather made an addition to her family. She gave birth to Tallon Wesley Long Feather on September 5th. Tallon was 9 lbs and 1 oz. and has a full head of hair. Congratulations, Cheryl and Wes!

Third Annual NDNAFPA Conference Slated - 2003

“Mending the Circle of Life with our Children and Families Through Harmony and Balance” is the theme of this year’s North Dakota Native American Foster Parent Association conference. The conference is set for October 24 and 25 at the Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino in Belcourt, N.D.

This year’s conference will feature Arnold Thomas as the keynote speaker. Arnold Thomas will share the journey that he has taken to help him find wellness. Mr. Thomas has dealt with mental and emotional issues through surviving a suicide attempt in 1988. Since then, Mr. Thomas has been blind and for several years was unable to speak. Through difficult times, Mr. Thomas has found inner strength that enabled him to rebuild his life by sharing his personal testimony. He has drawn on indigenous ceremonies that have allowed him to maintain harmony and balance while walking in today’s society. Mr. Thomas is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada. He has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. Currently, he owns White Buffalo Knife consulting and resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In addition to the great keynote speaker, the conference will feature the “Outstanding Foster Parents of the Year” for 2002. This year’s featured parents are:
Jacquelynn Conners – Three Affiliated Tribes
Francis and Romona Morin – Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
Arlene Gayton – Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Jerolyn and George Longie, Sr. – Spirit Lake Nation

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